Nearly three years ago, our daughter, then 21, said, “I have to tell you something that’s going to make you mad.”
Our grandson, Julien, just turned two.
We were mad. She was unmarried. She’d left college. She shared an apartment with kids we didn’t like, but we knew it was her lifestyle we really objected to.
We had three sons living at home, in what was supposed to have been our starter house–only three bedrooms. We had just moved one son into our daughter’s old room, freeing up some space. We were thinking of buying something bigger.
A grandchild would put everything on hold. And what about our daughter? She had no education and no way to support a child. The health insurance I carried for her would lapse before her due date.
We discussed her options–all of them. When we came to abortion, she said, “That’s not what you taught me.”
We taught her that we could not support criminalizing abortion, that she should avoid unwanted pregnancy . . . and. that if she got pregnant, we would be there for her.
We started over.
We took aim at her lifestyle; we felt this was the only way to help her and the baby. We told her we would help, but only if she moved back home, started school, and stayed here until she graduated and could support a baby.
Like all hard decisions, this one took time. She walked out of two conversations, angry and defiant, before she finally agreed. She was not happy. But unwanted pregnancies do not, in the beginning anyway, offer many happy choices.
We purchased baby furniture and clothing, painted and decorated a room for our daughter and the baby to share, moved our son back to the room he shared with a brother, and found health insurance. Lots of friends and family helped.
I was the birth coach; the joy I felt at seeing my grandson born is indescribable.
Two years later, we are in the same house, and my husband and I have taken on extra jobs. It is worth it. Our daughter has almost finished school, making nearly straight ‘As.’ She is healthy and on the right track. Our grandson has good childcare, lots of people to love him, and a future.
My liberal friends sometimes suggest that abortion was the right answer, given the sacrifices we’ve made. I believe, though, that the right to choose is meaningful only if it includes the right to choose to have a baby. My conservative friends sometimes applaud us for “choosing life.” But I wonder how they would respond if I told them that I believe that when we choose life, we cannot simply make another person’s choice; we must obligate ourselves to help with that choice – to educate and medicate and love – for as long as it takes. I believe that the difficulty and pain of sacrifice tell us the value of what we are sacrificing for. By that measure, Julien is priceless.
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